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Piano Rock - The Classic Rock Era

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Piano-Based Classic Rock

In the first part of this 3-part series, we reviewed several exceptions to the idea of Rock being a guitar-based genre. In this part of the series we pick up where The Beatles left off and enter piano rock’s second great period – Classic Rock.

Paul McCartney: Maybe I’m Amazed

As The Beatles were reaching their acrimonious end in late 1969, Paul retreated to his home, drinking heavily and wondering if he would be able to keep making music. With his wife Linda’s encouragement, he recorded the back-to-basics album MCCARTNEY at his home studio. A dispute with the other Beatles and EMI over the April 1970 release date of the album was the final nail in the coffin for McCartney. He publicly initiated the breakup of the Beatles shortly thereafter.

As the years have passed, an album that was once roundly criticized in the immediate wake of the breakup of The Fab Four has become widely regarded as one of his best works, due largely to the very simplicity that Paul was initially taken to task for. One of the highlights of the album was “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which became a huge hit for Wings several years later in a live version.


Elton John: Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

No discussion of piano-based Rock would be complete without mentioning Elton John. Over the span of five decades he has provided a string of great albums and singles that have stood the test of time, and he remains a major concert draw to this day, in spite of changing musical tastes.

The Rocket Man has released over 30 albums during his career. One of his best and best-known was 1973’s GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD. Like many of his other albums, it runs the gamut from sensitive ballads to all-out rockers. The opening track offers the best of both worlds. Originally recorded as two separate songs, the two were merged together as a seamless whole. It still remains a popular song in concert and on radio.


Billy Joel: Prelude/Angry Young Man

As with Sir Elton, no piano Rock discussion could be complete without mentioning the Piano Man himself. Although he hasn’t released an album of new music in over a decade, he is still a major concert draw, often appearing with Elton John.

Although he had only one hit before this 1976 song came out (“Piano Man”), and it would be another year before he became a major star, this song was chosen because of the wonderful piano solo that opens the cut. It exemplifies what a truly gifted piano player he is. Plus, it’s just a great song.


John Lennon: Imagine

In contrast to many of the other songs listed in this series, the piano styling of this song is very simple. As you can see (and hear), simple works beautifully in this song. This is probably the song that exemplifies John Lennon the most, particularly post-Beatles.



This only scratches the surface of the great piano-based rock songs of the Classic Rock era. In the next installment, we will move past this time period and consider more recent greats.

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